Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Happy "Accident"

I once had a theory that I felt certain was true: That the first and the last children in every family were “surprises”. It was true of my family. My oldest and youngest brothers both came as a surprise to my parents. And it was true with me. Ashton, as you all know, came as a shock. And Atleigh... well. If anything could be more shocking than Ashton, it was her.

After Chloe was born, Jeremy and I debated whether we would have more kids. We wavered back and forth, back and forth. Took precautions, deciding maybe we would try again later. After a nasty, horrible, awful run-in with an IUD, we decided to just... hold out, until more permanent methods of birth control became available. Chloe was about 18 months old at that time. 6 months later, I was pregnant. It was then, and only then, that I realized how happy I was with our “Disney Family Four Package”, as I called our little family. I’d always thought, “Well, maybe one day we’ll have another baby”, and until I was actually expecting said baby, I never knew how much I DID NOT want another baby. I took five tests in 4 days, hoping against hope that one would be negative. I cried everyday for a month. After that month I tapered down to about three times a week. By the time I got to my third trimester, I was down to crying only once every 7-9 days.

We’d always said if we had a third baby, we wouldn’t find out the sex. We had one of each, we figured we were prepared for any eventuality. I had to sign all kinds of papers, stating that the sex of the baby would in no way change my acceptance of said baby, that I was absolutely certain I would receive the baby regardless of its sex, etc., etc. In theory, not finding out the sex is exciting, mysterious, and somehow connects you with mothers from generations past: patiently waiting for your unknown little person to arrive, its name and fate undecided. In reality, or at least my reality, it only served to increase my sense of disconnect from this child that I had never asked for. Although our close friends and family knew I was pregnant, we didn’t make a widespread announcement. After about 5 months people started to notice that my fatness was taking on a shape (I was thankful for THAT, at least).

I sound like such a horrible person. The truth is, until about an hour before Atleigh was born, I had the trapped feeling of a person forced to get on a roller coaster, who realizes after it’s too late that she wants to get off the ride. I had the sense of looking down into a precipice, knowing I was about to spiral out of control, and knowing there was nothing I could do about it. I remember frantically texting my friend at 3 in the morning, after they’d decided to keep me overnight, saying, “I can’t do this. I changed my mind.” It was just... too much. One too many.

Jeremy had Atleigh’s named picked out since before Chloe was born. He wanted to use the name on her, but I wouldn’t let him, saying I wouldn’t have my kids have “twin” names like Ashton and Atleigh. We have (had) a deal- whoever picked out the first name, the other got to pick out the middle. He got Ashton, I got Nathaniel. I got Chloe, he got Noelle. If Atleigh was a boy, her name would have been Riley Nehemiah. As it was, Jeremy finally got his Atleigh, and I chose Naomi for her middle name, knowing that Naomi means the exact opposite of what my name means. Knowing that this baby was the exact opposite of what I wanted, but that God had predestined her. Naming her according to HIS plan, not mine.

Atleigh was born almost three weeks early, and so quickly I hardly even noticed it. 3 hours of labor, about 30 seconds of pushing, and this teeny little 6 pound baby with a dimple in her chin and blond highlights in her hair was placed on my chest. It’s just like in every story you read: I loved her the minute I laid eyes on her. I forgot all the tears and the whining I had done for the past 9 months. I forgot that I never “wanted” her. That didn’t matter. I needed her. She was mine. She was so little, so... unfinished. She looked like the pictures you see in books of babies still in utero, all the planes of her little face still softly smeared together, faint lines where her eyebrows should be, her tiny mouth pinched at the corners. When I picked her up, her body would curl up and out, turning her into the shape of a jelly bean. I still call her Jelly Bean, 3 years later.

Today Atleigh is the child of my heart. While Ashton and Chloe were both “Daddy’s” kids (and Chloe was decidedly my sister’s “kid”), Atleigh has always been solely mine. She is my little mini- me. She quirks her eyebrows like me, twists her mouth like me, “flounces” like me, as my parents will attest to. Her personality is 1,000 times larger than her tiny little frame. My mother tells me she’s just like my brother Ben. My mother-in-law tells me she’s just like Jeremy. I ask them both what I did to deserve that. She’s sassy and loud, bossy and wheedling, quirky and sweet, and everyone who meets her is immediately wrapped around her finger. She is the most charming person I know. She’s the only child of mine who inherited my brown eyes. I mean to apologize to her for that, when Daddy’s blue eyes were to be had. She still has blonde highlights running through her hair- a birthmark, I suppose. Her face is Puckish, with pointed eyebrows, a button nose and bow mouth, and a tiny little southwest dimple that looks like God Himself couldn’t resist pinching her cheek in the forming of her.

A few days ago I took her out for her very first “photo shoot”. I’ve done shoots of both Ashton and Chloe, but never Atleigh all by herself. I thought I would have to wrangle her mercilessly, but I underestimated the Jeremy-ness in her. She’s as big a ham as he ever was. She posed and preened and simpered without my even asking her (and don't hate me, Mom- her glasses gave off too big of a glare. When her new ones come in I'll do a whole new shoot, I promise!). Here are a few pictures I took of the happiest “accident” that ever happened to me. I thank God everyday that He didn’t let me off that roller coaster. I have a feeling that with Atleigh, I’m going to be on it for a long time.

1 comment:

  1. She looks like a porcelain doll in some of these photos!!!! SOOO beautiful! and SOOO perfect! I love the roller coaster's a beautiful thing that God always has a plan, leave it to us and we'd never know what's good for us. And Atleigh is a good, good thing. :)